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Daylight Spectra of Individual Lightning Flashes in the 370–690 nm Region

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  • 1 Department of Atmospheric Science, State University of New York at Albany, NY 12222
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Abstract

An optical multichannel analyzer slit spectrometer coupled to a minicomputer was used to record lightning spectra. This is the first successful application of a slit spectrometer to the study of individual lightning flashes and it was accomplished in the daytime. Over 300 spectra were obtained in 1978 and 1979 and are correlated with other experiments in the Thunderstorm Research International Program (TRIP). The spectra duplicate previously published nighttime data but reveal for the first time the relative intensity of H-alpha (656.3 nm) and H-beta (486.1 nm) emissions above their daytime absorption features. These are the characteristic Fraunhofer C and F lines in the solar spectrum. This result suggests that the observation of lightning from space may be accomplished by monitoring the hydrogen emissions from lightning which occur on Earth, or on other planets with hydrogen in their atmospheres, such as Jupiter and Venus where lightning recently has been reported.

Abstract

An optical multichannel analyzer slit spectrometer coupled to a minicomputer was used to record lightning spectra. This is the first successful application of a slit spectrometer to the study of individual lightning flashes and it was accomplished in the daytime. Over 300 spectra were obtained in 1978 and 1979 and are correlated with other experiments in the Thunderstorm Research International Program (TRIP). The spectra duplicate previously published nighttime data but reveal for the first time the relative intensity of H-alpha (656.3 nm) and H-beta (486.1 nm) emissions above their daytime absorption features. These are the characteristic Fraunhofer C and F lines in the solar spectrum. This result suggests that the observation of lightning from space may be accomplished by monitoring the hydrogen emissions from lightning which occur on Earth, or on other planets with hydrogen in their atmospheres, such as Jupiter and Venus where lightning recently has been reported.

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